Twas Christmas morning, when all though the house, there was the most almighty din.
As the morning mayhem ensued, I braced myself for what I knew was coming next: “Dad, can we set up the Xbox? Now, now, NOW – pleeeeeeease!”
Expecting Son 1 to just look at the box was a far-fetched notion, so we started in earnest. I mean, how hard could it be? Surely easier than flat-packed Ikea furniture. Once the Xbox was done, we could move on to setting up the wii, then head out to eat and relax later while the children played each other (Santa had wisely brought two Xbox consoles to avert WW3).
DH plugs it in, disappearing in a puff of dust as he moves things around behind the TV. The Xbox springs to life, and immediately tells us:
What? It’s brand new. How can it possibly be out of date already? (damn you, Microsoft) So, we wait patiently, watching the bar nudge its way across the screen as the first lot of updates are installed. And then the second lot.
The machine seems happy now it’s been fed with the latest software, but I suspect couldn’t care less about us getting Christmas dinner. It starts calibrating.
Then it needs to run some tests. On the background noise in our house. Now, remember, we have two boys – both of whom are loud at the best of times, let alone after a visit from Santa.
It soon becomes apparent that we’ve failed the test. “Your house is too noisy,” it states, or words to that effect. And I could hardly argue otherwise.
We’re given a second chance (it’s Christmas, after all). “Shhhh,” I tell the overexcited boys. “Don’t make a sound.” And, miraculously, you could have heard a pin drop in our house.
Finally, it looks like we’re getting somewhere – escape out of the house, to a Christmas brunch, is shining like a light at the end of the tunnel. We shove a disc in and hope for the best.
“The system does not support PAL50,” it flashes back at us. “Go to settings… [And, while you’re at it, forget about getting dressed up – why not go in your PJs, no make-up, messy hair.]”
“OK, OK,” we muster, scrolling through various menus, somehow pressing the right combination of buttons and unleashing a game, which (small mercy) the boys already knew how to play.
A few minutes later, DH and I are lying on the bed upstairs, snatching a few minutes of respite – as the unassembled wii machine winks at us from the corner (Round two, ding ding).
“It was much easier in 1996,” says DH. “When all you had to do was put a cartridge in.”
“I know,” I nod, wearily. “It’s all so kids can have uncommunicative playtime with gamers all round the world, hiding behind avatars. Maybe they can hook up with their cousins,” I add brightly. And then we head out, taking my new Sat Nav with us and plugging it into the car.
It defaults to Arabic – and can we change it? No, of course not. Fifteen minutes of fiddling with it proves fruitless. “You know what DH,” I sigh. “I think we might have to read the instructions.”